Caragher introduced as Spartans coach

Bay Area native Ron Caragher is back home.

Caragher, who was introduced as the new football coach at San
Jose State on Monday, still has family in nearby Morgan Hill and
plans to be in the area before boarding a plane to watch the
Spartans play at the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 27
two days later.

”This is a homecoming for me,” Caragher said. ”I used to
attend Spartan camps in the summer and as a high school player I
watched games and played in games at Spartan Stadium.”

Caragher, who spent the past six years at San Diego, replaces
Mike MacIntyre to become the 28th coach at the school. He signed a
five-year contract a week after MacIntyre left to take the head job
at Colorado. The No. 24 Spartans finished the regular season

After the 1-12 season two years ago featuring a heavy schedule
of ranked teams, the Spartans went 5-7 in MacIntyre’s second season
last year before this season’s rise to become a nationally
respected program.

”Things were up in the air when we didn’t know much,” Spartans
quarterback David Fales said. ”We finally have a coach again and
we can get back to work.”

Caragher replaced Jim Harbaugh, who is coaching the San
Francisco 49ers, at San Diego, where he compiled a 44-22 record
with three conference championships. He’s also been an assistant
coach at UCLA, Kentucky.

Harbaugh learned Monday afternoon that San Jose State had hired
Caragher, and called him a ”wonderful, wonderful, wonderful guy
and coach.”

”I would stop back down there when I was in San Diego. Talked
on the phone many times and just through players who were still
there at USD,” Harbaugh said. ”Like I said when I’d be recruiting
in San Diego I’d always stop by the trailer and see if anybody was
there. Ron’s been up here recruiting in the Bay Area when I was
over at Stanford. We’d run into each other. Great guy. Great guy,
great family. My son will be disappointed. He’s friends with Ron’s
son. They go to the same high school. But that’s great. Great hire
by San Jose State.”

”He talked to us a team,” Fales said of Caragher. ”From
everything I’ve heard he’s a down-to-earth person who really cares
about his players.”

Caragher attended Bellarmine Prep in San Jose before going on to
UCLA, where he spent four years as a backup quarterback.

”Being at San Diego, we would recruit the Bay Area,” Caragher
said. ”I’ve always come up every December and I had a trip planned
this year. Northern California has been very good to us and I hope
it can continue to be good.”

San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said Caragher
was always an option as a potential candidate.

”I have followed Coach Caragher’s career for some time,” said
Bleymaier, who came to San Jose State from Boise State. ”I’ve
always hoped I would have the opportunity to hire him here at some
point. Little did I know it would be so soon.”

Bleymaier said the selection committee vetted about 10
candidates and brought in five for formal interviews.

”What impressed me about Ron was everything,” Bleymaier said.
”From his reputation, his background, his local roots, it was a
total package.”

Caragher has been nominated for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the
Year, which recognizes the top coach in the Football Championship

When San Jose State wide receiver Jabari Carr was introduced to
Caragher, the coach quickly asked him to assume his stance and took
a minute for a quick lesson.

”I’m impressed with how far this team came,” Caragher said.
”That took commitment. I’m excited for this challenge and this

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report from
San Francisco.